“Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire” by David Thomson— Sexuality in the Movies

Thomson, David. “Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire”, Knopf, 2019.

Sexuality in the Movies

Amos Lassen

The interaction of onscreen beauty and private desire speaks to a crisis in American culture. This crisis “pits delusions of male supremacy against feminist awakening and the spirit of gay resistance.” Bringing together criticism and his own knowledge of film history and his own memoir, David Thomson examines how film has used traditional masculinity and help send it past a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a person desiring others. We look at the scope of film from  advertising to pornography, Rudolph Valentino to “Moonlight”, from Rock Hudson to “Call Me By Your Name”, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant to “Phantom Thread” and Thomson shows us the art and the artists under a new light. He shows the way in which film as art, entertainment, and business has been a polite cover for a kind of erotic séance. He makes us see that the way we watch our movies is a kind of training for how we try to live.

Thomson uses his encyclopedic knowledge to make us want to re-watch films that have been our favorites and see them differently. He is literate, frank, and sometimes graphic and always entertaining and provocative.

 

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